Whiskers are a fantastic natural sensor that enables cats, fish, seals, and many other animals to detect not just direct contact but even air flow indicating an approaching object. In a fascinating example of biomimicry, University of Queensland engineer Pauline Pounds and her colleagues have developed tiny whisker sensors for drones. According to the researchers, the whiskers are well-suited for "navigating through dark, dusty, smoky, cramped spaces, or gusty, turbulent environments with micro-scale aircraft that cannot mount heavier sensors such as lidars." At IEEE Spectrum, Evan Ackerman writes:
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The whisker fibers themselves are easy to fabricate—they’re just blobs of ABS plastic that are heated up and then drawn out into long thin fibers like taffy. The length and thickness of the whiskers can be modulated by adjusting the temperature and draw speed. The ABS blob at the base of each whisker is glued to a 3D-printed load plate, which is in turn attached to a triangular arrangement of force pads (actually encapsulated MEMS barometers)...
It can detect forces as low as 3.33 micronewtons, meaning that the researchers had to be careful not to stand too close to the whiskers while making measurements since the force of their breathing would throw things off. This sensitivity allows the whiskers to detect the wave of air generated by objects moving towards them, perhaps not in time for the drone to actually stop, but certainly in time for it to take other steps to protect itself, like cutting power to its motors. The whiskers can also be used to measure fluid flow (a proxy for velocity through the air), and of course, at slow speeds they work as contact sensors.
Finnish company Valkee sells the HumanCharger, a pair of $150 earbuds with integrated LEDs to shine light into your ears. Their claim:
This revolutionary device is for your well-being and channels bright light directly to the light-sensitive regions of the brain, right where it is needed the most.
HumanCharger® can be used to increase energy levels, improve mood, increase mental alertness, reduce the effects of jet lag and keep winter blues at bay.
A site called Valkee's Earlight Swindle International argues otherwise.
China, Mexico -- He's gonna wreck the economy one way or another.
President Trump tweeted today:
On June 10th, the United States will impose a 5% Tariff on all goods coming into our Country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP. The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied,..
....at which time the Tariffs will be removed. Details from the White House to follow.
Screengrab below. He was under pressure not to announce this today, so he announced it today, per White House reporters.
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) May 30, 2019
INBOX: @realDonaldTrump is raising taxes on Americans because Mexico isn’t closing its southern borders or taking East Germanyesque measures to keep people from leaving the country. pic.twitter.com/x4HjJAACoK
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) May 30, 2019
Making Arizona and Texas into swing states to own the Mexicans? https://t.co/pp6s2jgSTU
— Nick Riccardi (@NickRiccardi) May 30, 2019
The announcement the President’s advisors were trying to convince him not to make https://t.co/WtsW2YzJr3
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) May 30, 2019
Marginalized Native American communities throughout the United States could have better access to high-speed internet if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decides to allow tribes to use the Educational Broadband Services (EBS) spectrum for services like telemedicine, transmitting medical records electronically, or an online high school. Read the rest
U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed a new rule to allow carriers to block robocalls. “The American people are fed up with illegal robocalls,” he said. Read the rest
Mega-retailer Walmart on Tuesday announced next-day delivery on more than 200,000 items for orders over $35. Read the rest
MIT researchers who developed light-emitting plants are now exploring how the glowing greenery could be integrated into future building designs. In their proof-of-concept demonstration, the scientist packaged luciferase, the enzyme that enables fireflies to glow, into nanoparticles that were then suspended in solution. The plants were immersed in the solution and, through high pressure, the nanoparticles entered tiny pores in the plants' leaves. The plants maintained their glow for several hours and they've since increased the duration. Now, project lead Michael Strano, professor of chemical engineering, is collaborating with MIT architecture professor Sheila Kennedy on possible future applications of the green technology. From MIT News:
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“If we treat the development of the plant as we would just another light bulb, that’s the wrong way to go,” Strano (says)....
The team is evaluating a new component to the nanobiotic plants that they call light capacitor particles. The capacitor, in the form of infused nanoparticles in the plant, stores spikes in light generation and “bleeds them out over time,” Strano explains. “Normally the light created in the biochemical reaction can be bright but fades quickly over time. Capacitive particles extend the duration of the generated plant light from hours to potentially days and weeks...."
As the nanobionic plant technology has advanced, the team is also envisioning how people might interact with the plants as part of everyday life. The architectural possibilities of their light-emitting plant will be on display within a new installation, “Plant Properties, a Future Urban Development,” at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York opening May 10.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has denied an application by the Chinese telecommunications provider China Mobile to provide services in the U.S. over concerns about national security and risks to law enforcement. Read the rest